Swing bridge upgrades planned for autumn 2022

Network Rail's planned upgrade of the electrical and mechanical systems of three swing bridges at Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad will improve reliability for passengers using the Wherry line and reduce disruption for river users.

Somerleyton Swing Bridge

The internal components of the three swing bridges haven’t been replaced in over 100 years and need frequent and costly maintenance. Starting autumn this year, Network Rail’s engineers will be upgrading the internal components which includes replacing for each bridge:

  • the winch systems,
  • hydraulic jacks and pipework,
  • lighting and;
  • Installation of new power systems.

This work will make the bridges less prone to faults, reducing the current maintenance costs and will be able to operate more reliably throughout the year for passengers. It will also benefit river traffic by providing more reliable access to the local waterways and support the local economy, especially throughout summer as tourists are welcomed to the area.

The three bridges are an important part of Network Rail’s railway heritage and work to the internal elements of the bridges will be carried out whilst also maintaining the current look-and-feel and heritage of each bridge.

Dates of planned closures

Network Rail is planning to close the railway between Reedham and Lowestoft and between Lowestoft and Beccles to allow engineers to complete the upgrade work to the swing mechanisms. The bridges will be closed on the following dates:

  • Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2022
  • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October 2022
  • Saturday 22 October to Sunday 6 November 2022 inclusive (16 days)
  • Sunday 20 November 2022

Greater Anglia will be running a rail replacement bus service so that rail passengers are able to complete their journeys. Details will be available closer to the time of the work taking place on www.greateranglia.co.uk and www.nationalrailenquiries.co.uk.

Oulton Broad Swing Bridge

Impact on navigation for boaters

Network Rail have been working with the Authority to plan this work after the busy summer tourist period to minimise disruption. River access for vessels will be limited while the work takes place but there will be short windows of opportunity to open the bridges during the 16-day period to allow river access which will be communicated by The Broads Authority to boat users prior to works commencing.

Navigation Restriction

Murphy Construction Ltd will be undertaking major maintenance works on the Reedham and Somerleyton Swing Bridges, from Saturday 24th September until Saturday 29 April 2023. The maintenance works will involve the replacement of the existing hydraulic swing systems.

Note: During the above period navigation will remain open, but the bridge central spans will be restricted to specific opening times.

  • Sat 24 Sept to Mon 26 Sept – One opening per day at 10:00 – 11:15am
  • Sat 08 Oct to Mon 10 Oct – One opening per day at 10:00 – 11:15am
  • Sat 22 Oct to Mon 31 Oct - One opening per day at 10:00 – 11:15am
  • Normal Service will resume from 01 November 2022 until 12 March 2023
  • From 13th March 2023 until Saturday 29th April 2023 2 openings – 3 days a week
    • Tuesdays – 10:00 -11:15am & 2pm–3:15pm
    • Thursdays – 10:00 -11:15am & 2pm–3:15pm
    • Sundays – 10:00 -11:15am & 2pm–3:15pm

Rob Rogers, Broads Authority Director of Operations, commented:

“This much-needed investment by Network Rail into the Broads’ swing bridges is very much welcomed by the Broads Authority and our boating communities.

It has been a challenging few years for our river users regarding the bridges and we are delighted to hear that work is progressing to allow them to reliably open for river traffic.

We urge the boating community to note the periods of closure above and to check our website as the works progress for any navigation updates.”

More information

Monday 25 April 2022